The center-left presidential candidate Ciro Gomes accused far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro of lying about his health to avoid debating this Thursday in the last televised campaign debate.
Bolsonaro, ahead in the polls, was stabbed in the stomach and had to spend several weeks in the hospital due to his injury. He told TV Globo, who is hosting the national debate, he wouldn’t be able to attend due to his health condition, according to the station.
One of the surgeons who treated the 63-year-old army ex-apprentice forbid his attendance at the event.
But Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) says that Bolsonaro obtained "a false medical certificate" to back out of the debate.
"I'm telling you that I'm going to unmask you, Bolsonaro. You cannot stop from going to the debate. You're lying, and (to present) a false medical certificate is a crime," Gomes said in Sao Paulo.
"Go to the Globo debate and I'll show you that (the medical certificate) is a three-dollar bill," he added, a demonination that doesn’t exist.
Gomes and others are accusing Bolsonaro of avoiding the debate in order to maintain his lead in the polls and to not further disclose his far-right politics and potential role in the coup of President Dilma Rousseff Workers' Party (PT) in 2016.
According to Plataforma Media, the candidate's surgeon, Antonio Luiz de Vasconcellos Macedo, assessed the patient Wednesday in his Rio de Janeiro home and declared Bolsonaro unfit to participate in the live event.
Bolsonaro currently has 32 percent of voter support, according to an Ibope poll published Wednesday. PT candidate Fernando Haddad is coming in second with 23 percent, and Gomes with 12. Haddad is replacing the former president and PT candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who remains in jail after he was illegally imprisoned last April for supposedly taking Odebrecht kickbacks.
Brazilian voters will go to polling stations this Sunday and if no one receives the majority Bolsonaro and Haddad will head to a second round on Oct. 28.
Thursday’s presidential debate will be the last of seven that were televised on various stations throughout the campaign. The eight highest ranking candidates were invited to the discussion, but there will be only seven, with the absence of Bolsonaro.
According to Michael Mohallem, a professor of political science at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) said Thursday’s debate has generated greater expectations "because Globo has a large audience" and because it can help the undecided, especially in a short campaign like this year, 45 days, which is half of the previous campaign time due to a recent change in electoral law.
Bolsonaro had already indicated before being stabbed that he did not intend to participate in all the debates.
For Mohallem, Bosonaro’s move is "a good strategic decision because (it) increases the risk of negative exposure."